Activated carbon = useless? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-11-2012, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Activated carbon = useless?

At first I thought carbon helped make your water clean by absorbing toxins and odor and well as leeching carbon for plants. I've had mine in my filter for a while and I read that after a few weeks, the carbon will start releasing what it has absorbed into the water so you need to buy more and replace it. Is this the case? I thought it was good to have it because it came with my tank and the instructions said to keep it. I'm wondering if it also absorbs Prime and helpful bacteria slowing my cycle. Should I remove it and add an extra biomax or sponge?
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:02 AM
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It won't hurt anything, at length it becomes extra bio media when its full and can't hold any more stuff. It does not release carbon, or at least significant amounts of it. Nor does it release to stuff it absorbed

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:04 AM
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My understanding is that carbon is only usefull for a few days to remove toxins, medicines, discoloration etc from the water. After that time it can be discarded as it won't be as usefull in doing that. As to releases stuff back into the water i cannot speak of.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:08 AM
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I mainly use carbon when I first set up the tank to clean up any harmful chemicals that might remain. Once my tank is cycled it usually comes out of the tank and bio filter material replaces it. Before I had shrimp I used it to clean up any medication I used.


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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:12 AM
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Its good for taking tannins out of the water if your using almond leaves or alder cones.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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So should I remove them or not, I'm kinda getting mixed answers. I bought 2 packs(6) of this stuff because I thought they were important if not I'll return them. So they don't affect the cycle and aren't harmful when left in the filter for a long time?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 12:23 AM
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its cheper to do water changes to remove the same thigns carbon will. its NOT important to have. but it wont hurt to have it

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 01:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidefunk View Post
As to releases stuff back into the water i cannot speak of.
I can. It does.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 02:41 AM
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It won't hurt anything, at length it becomes extra bio media when its full and can't hold any more stuff. It does not release carbon, or at least significant amounts of it. Nor does it release to stuff it absorbed
HD is correct.. It does NOT release anything after its full... It does lend itself to become bio filtration if left long enough.

I use it Very rarely... Only when I introduce new drift wood or the likes. I use it to help clear up the tannins till it settles down with releasing them.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquaticfan View Post
HD is correct.. It does NOT release anything after its full... It does lend itself to become bio filtration if left long enough.

I use it Very rarely... Only when I introduce new drift wood or the likes. I use it to help clear up the tannins till it settles down with releasing them.
+1 I used it for years, mainly to reduce tannins and it always gave the water a clean look. It doesnt release anything back into the water however. And I can only imagine that it would be a good place for bacteria to colonize


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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm...I might just leave it in then. I'm just curious is anybody doesn't use the carbon and replace it with an extra sponge or something. I don't have wood in my tank so I might just change the carbons every couple months since I bought 6 of them.

Let's say you have two biomax filters(white marshmallow in mesh) and a sponge and need to use carbon to remove meds. If you take out a biomax out of the filter for a few days, will all the colonized bacteria still be alive? Just in case I need room for carbon in case of emergency I wouldn't want to destroy a bunch of bacteria. Maybe just take it out of the filter and place it leave it in the tank water in the meantime?
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 03:44 AM
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Some carbons will leach phosphates if they are cheapo. I have always been in the habit of using carbon since I started off with reef tanks. I use the BRS carbon and its pretty awesome. My water is always crystal clear and any chemicals that find their way into my tank will be absorbed. Using a big tub of carbon and filling a bag is the way to go, its a lot cheaper. I replace my carbon every 2 weeks.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Aquaticfan View Post
HD is correct.. It does NOT release anything after its full...
I don't want to start a fight or anything here, but I have taken (and passed) many wastewater management and pollution prevention courses over the course of my career in the electroplating field and I use activated carbon in my company's waste treatment facility. I have been told in every single course that carbon does NOT permanently hold whatever it has grabbed.
I can not claim to have actually measured this, or witnessed with my own eyes any release but every single teacher, professor and salesman has told me the same thing. Given time activated carbon will release the molecules it previously adsorped.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 05:44 AM
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Carbon doesn't replace doing water changes. I personally take it out of all my tanks and instead put more biological substrat in its place. Others have used Purigen to help polish the tank and even reduce nitrates, but I haven't tried it (yet). I may try it on one of my tanks just for that polished pristine look. I wouldn't use it to reduce nitrates though, that's what good tank maintenance is for and correct feeding amounts.
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-12-2012, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusiongt View Post
Carbon doesn't replace doing water changes. I personally take it out of all my tanks and instead put more biological substrat in its place. Others have used Purigen to help polish the tank and even reduce nitrates, but I haven't tried it (yet). I may try it on one of my tanks just for that polished pristine look. I wouldn't use it to reduce nitrates though, that's what good tank maintenance is for and correct feeding amounts.
And to that end Purigen can become a part of a good maintenance routine.
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